By Dalton McClain / May 10th, 2017
|Release Date||March 30, 2017|
PacaPlus is a visual novel where, that’s right, you date an alpaca. Well, that’s the basic gist of everything anyway. While I enjoyed games like My Horse Prince and Hatoful Boyfriend, something about this game just struck me as being different. So how did the game turn out then, and what really surprised me about it?
The plot is simple. You play a high schooler named Kazuma who is dating an overachiever named Yukari. Everything’s all fine and normal until you visit the Alpaca Kingdom on Yukari’s birthday. It’s an alpaca farm, which makes a great dating spot seeing as how both characters really love alpacas, Kazuma maybe a bit too much. On the train back you fall asleep, and you wake up to your girlfriend being seemingly turned into an alpaca. Your relationship with her slowly starts to change from a normal and happy couple, to a distant one as he has a tough time dealing with the fact that she’s now an alpaca.
Calling the humor in this game tongue-in-cheek would be the understatement of the century. Most of the humor derives from watching an alpaca trying to do normal, everyday high school things. The story starts out really lighthearted but slowly evolves into a fairly deep plot for a game with a silly premise like this. It’s nothing too groundbreaking, but it is definitely thought provoking enough to keep you interested. This really shouldn’t have caught me off guard, but it did, and that’s what a good game should do. The deeper meaning shifts with the four different routes, and that’s a nice touch. I found every route to be enjoyable, and the entire plot as a whole to be really nice. It kept me interested the entire way through.
The visuals, as well, are nothing too groundbreaking. This is the second time that they’re releasing this game here in the west, so that could explain the nice and clean graphics. Everything is really nicely drawn, and the scenes with Yukari are especially funny because of how she’s drawn and animated. However, there’s very little in terms of animation apart from her, but the minuscule amount of animation really didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the game in any way. The four characters that actually have models, five if you count both of Yukari’s, look really good and match their character almost to a T. The only complaint that I have is that there are very few CGs, only around 12, but that’s just a small complaint.
The only thing that I didn’t really like was the mechanics. The game functioned well enough and didn’t crash, but I just wish there was a bit more polish overall. The transition screens are probably the best example of this. Every transition sucked you out of the experience, even the calendar transition which had a really cool premise. I like the idea of having the calendar be marked off for each day, and I even like the dry erase marker sound effect that they used, but the design of it looked bland and the “x”‘s just sort of popped in. There were even moments where after the transition would happen, it would pop up the same previous text box about three times before it would start working again. If that wasn’t bad enough, the first couple of lines always lagged right after a transition. It all seemed really sloppy and took me out of the moment almost completely.
Now, the story may have shocked me, but the music left me in awe at certain points. Sometimes the music was just nice and simple, but other times there were guitar riffs and beautiful melodic violins. I wish they had the soundtrack listed somewhere because I would buy it in a heartbeat. The sound design, in general, was really good, except for certain scenes where the music would drown out the voice acting. There is a setting to fix that, but it’s just weird that it only does it in certain scenes. The voice acting in this game is really good, and it’s especially funny hearing Yukari’s shift in voice. There’s not too much to complain about in this department as it all seems to function rather well.
The only other drawback I can think of is the translation. This game was translated laughably poorly, which is an understatement. This does create some funny moments, however this is purely unintentional. I understand that this used to be a fan-translated game, but it seems like they didn’t even try to run it by an editor. It doesn’t distract from the game too much because the mistakes are spaced out, but it does make it a pain to read sometimes.
I can’t honestly say that I hated any character in this visual novel. Ayaka, another student, is pretty useless, but other than that they’re all good characters. Kazuma is a typical high school boy trying to figure things out. Yukari is a high school girl/alpaca who’s an A+ student and a hardcore overachiever. Ayaka is a student that likes to take charge. And Mitaka is the boss of Kazuma and owner of the Black Cat Cafe. He works as your mentor throughout the game and is by far my favorite of the bunch. He gives pretty generic advice, but a lot of the time that’s all a kid Kazuma’s age needs to hear to know what to do and feel better. As with most of the features in this game, the characters are very cookie cutter, but they do their job well.
I genuinely enjoyed this game, and definitely recommend picking it up. You aren’t going to get anything profound, but for $10 you’re going to get one heck of an interesting visual novel. PacaPlus kept me laughing from beginning to end, and it was a real treat to play. The game only took me about four hours to beat all four routes, but I think it works in favor of the game. Two of the endings are actually pretty difficult to figure out, so it requires a little bit of trial and error to see them. There aren’t many choices in the game so it isn’t too hard, just really time-consuming. PacaPlus never outstays its welcome, and always keeps you wanting more. Despite its flaws, I had a lot of fun reading this, and it’s well worth the price.
Review copy provided by publisher
All AgesPacaPlusPacoProjectsekai projectvisual novel